McMaster University

McMaster University

John A. Hassell

, PhD

Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences (primary)
Pathology and Molecular Medicine

Division: Molecular Medicine

Professor, Biochemistry & Biology
Director, Centre for Functional Genomics

McMaster University
5028 Michael DeGroote Centre for Learning & Discovery
905-525-9140 ext 27217

Assistant: Jenn Seager

Currently accepting Graduate Students
Currently accepting Post Doctoratal Fellows

John A. Hassell

Faculty Biography

Education and Professional Standing

  • PhD, Molecular Biology, University of Connecticut, 1975
  • BSc, Chemistry, University of New York, 1970


Research Focus

The mammalian Ets gene family comprises over 30 members that have been grouped into subfamilies based on the relatedness of their sequences. All Ets proteins bear highly related Ets DNA binding domains and either activate or repress transcription. The PEA3 subfamily of Ets genes comprises PEA3, ER81 and ERM. These three genes are co-expressed in many developing tissues and organs during mouse embryogenesis; their overexpression is associated with the genesis and progression of breast and colon cancer. Our research program is centered on elucidating the structure-function and regulation of the expression and activity of the PEA3 subfamily of Ets proteins, and uncovering their role in mammary gland development and oncogenesis. To accomplish our goals we are using state-of-the-art technologies including gene expression profiling with DNA microarrays and various strains of knockout and transgenic mice.

Team Members

Lab Technicians: Craig Aarts, Bonnie Bojovic, Adele Girgis-Gabard

Post Doctoral Student: Anna Dvorkin-Gheva

Graduate Student: Robin Hallett

Selected Publications

  • McGray RJR, Hallett RM, Bernard D, Swift S, Zhu Z, Teoderascu F, VanSeggelen H, Hassell JA, Hurwitz AA, Wan Y, and Bramson JL. 2013. Immunotherapy-induced CD8(+) T Cells instigate immune suppression in the tumor. Mol.Ther. 2014 Jan;22(1):206-18. doi: 10.1038/mt.2013.255. Epub 2013 Oct 23.
  • Manoranjan B, Wang X, Hallett RM, Venugopal C, Mack SC, Nolte SM, Scheinemann K, Gunnarson T, Hassell JA, Taylor MD, Dunn SE, Cynthia H, and Singh SK. (2013). FoxG1 interacts with Bmi1 to regulate self-renewal and tumorigenicity of medulloblastoma stem cells. Stem Cells. 2013 Jul;31(7):1266-77. doi: 10.1002/stem.1401.PMID: 23592496
  • Reipas KM, Law JH, Couto N, Islam S, Li Y, Li H, Cherkasov A, Jung K, Cheema AS, Jones SJ, Hassell JA, and Dunn SE.  (2013). Luteolin is a novel p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) inhibitor that suppresses Notch4 signaling by blocking the activation of Y-box binding protein-1 (YB-1). Oncotarget, 4(2):329-45, PMID 23593654.
  • Kurpios NA, Girgis-Gabardo A, Hallett RM, Rogers S, Gludish D, Kockeritz L, Woodgett J, Cardiff R, and Hassell JA. (2013) Single unpurified breast tumor-initiating cells from multiple mouse models efficiently elicit tumors in immune-competent hosts. PLoS One. 2013. 8:3:e58151.
  • Nolte S, Venugopal C, McFarlane N, Morozova O, Hallett R, O'Farrell E, Manoranjan B, Murty N, Klurfan P, Kachur E, Provias J, Hassell JA, Marra M, and Singh S.  (2012). A cancer stem cell model system for studying brain metastases from primary lung cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2012. 0227-8874 (Epub ahead of print).
  • Chaar ZY, Hastings L, Sriram R, McKay M, Antonova L, Hassell JA, and Sabourin LA. (2012). Impaired c-src activation and motility defects in PEA3-null fibroblasts. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Sep 12. pii: S0167-4889(12)00259-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.09.002 . (Epub ahead of print).
  • Sachlos E, Risueno RM, Laronde S, Shapovalova Z, Lee JH, Russell J, Malig M, McNicol JD, Fiebig A, Graham M, Levadoux-Martin M, Lee JB, Giacomelli AO, Hassell JA, Fischer Russell D, Trus Michael R, Collins TJ and Bhatia M. (2012). Identification of drugs including a dopamine receptor antagonist that selectively target cancer stem cells. Cell 2012 Jun. 8; 149(6):1284-97. Epub 2012 May 24.
  • McGray AJ, Bernard D, Hallett R, Kelly R, Jha M, Gregory C, Bassett J, Hassell J, Pare G, Wan Y, and Bramson J.  (2012). Combined vaccination and immunostimulatory antibodies provides durable cure of murine melanoma and induces transcriptional changes associated with positive outcome in human melanoma patients.  OncoImmunology. 1:4. 419-431. doi:10.4161/onci.19534.
  • Hallett RM, Pond G, and Hassell JA. (2012). A target based approach identifies genomic based predictors of breast cancer patient response to chemotherapy.  BMC Medical Genomics 2012, 5:16 doi:10.1186/1755-8794-5-16.
  • Hallett RM, Kondratyev MK, Giacomelli AO, Nixon AML, Girgis-Gabardo A, Ilieva D, and Hassell JA. (2012). Small molecule antagonists of the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway target breast tumor-initiating cells in a Her2/Neu mouse model of breast cancer. PLoS One: 7(3) e33976.
  • Kondratyev M, Kreso A, Hallett RM Girgis-Gabardo A, Barcelon, ME, Ilieva D, Ware C, Majumder PK, and Hassell JA. (2012). Gamma-secretase inhibitors target tumor-initiating cells in a mouse model of ERBB2 breast cancer. Oncogene. 31: 93-103. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.212.
  • Giacomelli, AO, Hallett RM, and Hassell JA (2012). Identifying Mammary Epithelial Stem and Progenitor Cells. (Book chapter). Book title: Genetically-Engineered Mice for Cancer Research; Design, Analysis, Pathways, Validation and Pre-Clinical Testing. (Eds. JE Green and T Ried) pp. 261-279. DOI 10.1007/978-0-69805-2_12, ©Springer Science+ Business Media, LLC 2012. ISBN 978-0-387-69803-8.
  • Hallett RM, Dvorkin-Gheva A, Bane A and Hassell JA. (2012). A gene signature for predicting outcome in patients with basal-like breast cancer.  Scientific Reports. 2:227, doi:10.1038/srep00227.
  • Dvorkin-Gheva A, Hassell JA. Hormone receptor and ERBB2 status in gene expression profiles of human breast tumor samples. PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26023
  • Hallett RM, and Hassell JA. (2011). E2F1/KIAA0191 expression predicts breast cancer patient survival.  BMC Research Notes.  4:95, doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-95.
  • Terskikh A. (2010).  MELK is upregulated and required in mammary tumor initiating cells in vivo.  Cancer Research, 70 (21):8863-73.
  • Hebbard L, Maurer J, Miller A, Lesperance J, Hassell JA, Oshima RG, and  
  • Tiodorovic N, Giacomelli A, Hassell JA, Frampton CS, and Capretta A. (2010).  Microwave-assisted synthesis of 3-aryl-pyrimido[5,4-e][1,2,4]triazine-5,7-(1H6H)-dione libraries:  derivatives of toxoflavin. Tetrahedron Letters 51 6037-6040.
  • Grohs BM, Niu Y, Veldhuis LJ, Trabelsi S, Garabagi F, Hassell JA, McLean MD and Hall JC.  Plant-produced Trastuzumab inhibits the growth of HER2 positive cancer cells.  (2010) J. Agric. Food Chem. 58, 10056-10063.  DOI:10.1021/jf02284f.
  • Hallett RM, Dvorkin A, Gabardo CM, and Hassell JA. (2010). An algorithm to discover gene signatures with predictive potential.  J Exp Clin Cancer Res, 29(1):12
  • Baker R, Kent C, Silbermann R, Hassell JA, Young L and Howe L. (2010). Pea3 transcription factors and wnt1-induced mouse mammary neoplasia. PLoS One. Jan 22: 5(1):e8854.
  • Lu B, Cebrian C, Chi X, Kuure S, Kuo R, Bates CM, Arber S, Hassell JA, MacNeil L, Hoshi M, Jain S, Asai N, Takahashi M, Schmidt-Ott, K, Barasch J, Agati V, and Constantini F. (2009). The ETS transcription factors Pea3 and Erm are required for downstream GDNF and Ret for branching morphogenesis during kidney development. Nature Genetics 41: 1295 - 1302.
  • Zhang Z, Verheyden JM, Hassell JA, and Sun X. (2009). FGF-regulated Etv genes are essential for Repressing Shh expression in mouse limb buds. Developmental Cell 16: 607-613.
  • Kurpios NA, MacNeil L, Shepherd TG, Gludish DG, Giacomelli AO and Hassell JA. (2009). The Pea3 Ets transcription factor regulates differentiation of multipotent progenitor cells during mammary gland development. Developmental Biology 325: 106-121.
  • Giacomelli AO, Hallett RM, and Hassell JA. (2009). Transcription control in breast cancer: Role of ETS transcription factors. In: Breast Cancer: From Pathogenesis to Potential Therapeutic Modalities, A. Ben-Baruch (ed.), Transworld Research Network, Kerala, India. Pp.57-76.
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